Design Matters is coming up – How I prepare for a conference!

Print the speakers and the overview of their talk:
– They should include a picture of the speaker, an overview of who they are and if possible the topic they will cover.
– The cutouts should be small enough to fit in my sketchbook.
– I cut them out and place them in the sketchbook in the right order before the event.
– I usually use them during the conference to look at how the speaker looks when I draw them, and to get an idea about what the talk will be about right before it starts and from that choose a fitting layout idea quickly.
– If there are several talks/workshops at the same time, I choose beforehand which I prefer, but keep the others for backup in case my plan changes.

TIP it is easiest to move around as little as possible between tracks/rooms during a conference – that way I can use the tiny breaks between the speakers to finish up the sketchnote with shading, take pictures of the sketch or chat with the person next to me who has been looking at me sketch during the previous talk.

Prepare the sketchbook with my logo on each page:
Because I cannot afford personalized sketchbooks yet, I tape in my logo manually from a printout.
Sometimes I splurge on stickers, or use a stamp (beware this can smudge unless you use permanent ink).

Test & prepare layout:
Sometimes I prepare & test out layouts before the conference for a unified look that matches the conference visual identity. I sometimes even cheat a bit, and draw the speakers before the conference if I want to capture their likeness more.

Make sure I have enough room on my phone:
I usually record my favourite speakers with Audiorecord (but rarely need the recording and usually delete it after) and take a lot of pictures of the slides – it is rare the slides are shared afterwards and I so dislike having halfmade lists in my sketchnotes.

Choose colours and pack my tiny pencilcase:
– For this conference I will match the colours to DesignMatters look, blue and yellow. The thin yellow pen is a Pentel Touch (great for calligraphy) and the thick pens are Hamleys magic whiteouts, which magically disappears when the magic pen is used (great for inverted drawings).
– In addition to these colours (which will be used sparingly) I use a black unipen in 0.8 and 0.3 depending on my stash sometimes 0.5, as well as a grey Koi for shadows.
– I test out my pens the day before and bring extra of those that might run dry. (My speed goes a lot down when the pen starts to runs out of juice).

Expand my visual vocabulary:
A good way to feel more prepared right before a full day of sketching is to practice, practice practice. I have started to prepare by doing some relevant visual exercises in my ‘Visual Library book’ before the event, researching and testing out visuals that fits the topics at the conference – for example for this conference I have started to research how to better draw things related to cars and transportation because Molly Nix from UBER will be giving a talk, and my Visual Vocabulary (and general knowledge) of cars is limited.